11/15/2019 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana has penned a letter to the recently appointed United States Ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, urging her to engage with her India counterpart on issues relating to the decline of religious freedom in India. The letter highlights a number of issues that have escalated to significant levels of violence and instability in the social fabric of India. Over the last several years, India’s religious minorities have faced significant oppression from extremist Hindu Nationalists that currently hold political power in India. Prime Minister Modi and his BJP political party project a steady barrage of extremist rhetoric to Indian citizenry and incite massive violence against the religious minority communities in India.
Over the last several years, Congress has authored similar letters to the government of India and challenged Prime Minister Modi and his BJP party to engage on these issues and help safeguard the rights and liberties of India’s religious minorities. However, very little has been done.
The radical agenda of the BJP and its parent organization, the RSS, is being implemented at state levels in the form of anti-forced conversation laws, which limit the religious freedom and liberty of all citizens. While they are almost exclusively used to oppress Christians and Muslims Hindus are largely ignored. The government of India now is entertaining the idea of launching a national anti-forced conversation law which will bring the bigotry of radical Hindu nationalist to the forefront of a national persecution campaign.
The United States values its geostrategic partnership with India and must continue to engage the Indian government to steer away from policy that will leave the minorities of India in the wake of human rights violations. Hindu nationalism is not good for India. It does not embody the Hinduism or the teachings of Gandhi. In fact, its stands directly against anything that Gandhi sought to accomplish in his time.
While letters like the one from Mr. Johnson are welcomed tools of engagement, it is necessary for the United States to develop a staged process with realistic incentives for India to move its domestic policy agenda toward greater pluralism and end the radical nationalization program to disenfranchise religious minorities. India celebrates (at least in international rhetoric) a secular constitution and pluralist society, its time now that the leadership of India press for these values in the domestic space, condemn the violence and intolerance of Hindutva, and prosecute the perpetrators of violence.
Matias Perttula currently serves as the Advocacy Director for International Christian Concern where he leads the government relations efforts to mobilize the US government to address issues of persecution in countries where religious minorities are oppressed and the freedom of religion is in decline.